Sidmouth runner Ashby denied landmark time

It is almost universally acknowledged that running is a great way of working off the frustration and stresses of everyday life, especially after a bad day at the office or at home with the kids, writes John Perratt.

There is however, a downside and it can become extremely frustrating when you are chasing that elusive PB or other self set challenge.

A man that can tell you all about this is Justin Ashby who set himself a target of getting under 36 minutes for 10k either on the road or on the track.

He has been hovering quite close to it, but having beaten his earlier sub-two hour 50 minutes target for the Marathon it has become his main running mission.

Last year at the First Chance in Exeter he was just a little frustrated, but nevertheless encouraged, when he was given a chip time of 36.00 dead. That was good but, remember, the aim was to get under the 36 mark.


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The First Chance this year presented another good opportunity for him and he was delighted when he looked at his watch as he crossed the line. It read 34.46 so ‘Job done’ he thought. Not so, said the race officials. Because of the heavy storm the night before, a section of the route that goes through the Exeter flood relief system had been altered for ‘Elf and Safety’ reasons. As a result the course run was about 400 metres short.

Undaunted, he thought that the Devon 10,000m Championships on the new track at Exeter last week would provide a golden opportunity.

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Twenty-five laps on the track is a bit of a demoralising affairm, but Justin is made of strong stuff and as he set off on the final lap it was obvious that it was going to be a close fought thing.

The track is of course set up with electronic timing but you can imagine his dismay and disappointment when his official time was given as 36:00.57, less than a second out after all that effort on the day, not to mention the training build up to it.

Never mind, Justin, at least you have the M40 club records for the distance on both the road and track.

The First Chance in January is not far away. Train a little harder and get your entry in early.

Talking of 10ks, 17-year-old Jason Drew went to Cotleigh last Sunday to defend his title and two very quick runners pushed him into third place, but to his satisfaction they helped him knock nearly a minute off his last year’s winning time, finishing in 35.55. Justin would have been happy with that!

It was good also to see Fiona Cummins and Sasha Hargreave (mother and daughter) running around together.

They are never stressed out and finished comfortably, still chatting as they crossed the line in 58.31. John Perratt was not quite so relaxed but nevertheless pleased with his 53.02.

At the same time and venue there was a 5 k race and Jason’s mother, Jayne, opting for the shorter distance took home the prize for the first lady in her age group in 23.49 and Bill Valentine testing out his new shoes in the 5k finished in 33.43 in very warm and pleasant conditions.

A good day out all round and, for those averse to mud, infinitely more enjoyable than the Commando Challenge taking place on Woodbury Common the same weekend!

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